Apparently, Hallmark now has unemployment cards:
And in another, even sadder, sign of the times, Hallmark has ID theft cards too:
I had a few clients yesterday asking me how I was holding up during the sell-off. Very kind, I thought. Interestingly, they were not overly concerned about their portfolios. I assume that was because we communicate about these things regularly and I go to great lengths to explain why our portfolios are positioned as they are. While the past week’s sell-off was unpredictable, it was not unexpected. Read that last sentence again- it was unpredictable, but not unexpected. Our portfolios were not overly optimistic, bullish and naively exposed to these dangers.
Not that these past few weeks have been encouraging- they aren’t- and in fact are quite depressing. But we have had a plan in place for a while and clients understand our plan of attack. As for me, I’ve been in these environments before. From a big-money cockpit, I’ve watched in real time the Asian meltdown/Long-Term Capital Management debacle of 1998, the dot-com bust, 9/11 and of course the recent financial crisis and it’s huge volatility. The important thing is not to panic. Turn off CNBC, stop checking your accounts frequently and don’t read too many headlines. That is, if you were prepared both mentally and in your portfolio.
I realize a lot of people don’t have a plan of attack; the past week did take them by surprise and they may not know what to do now. To that end, please contact me. I have never been self-promotional on this site and don’t intend to, yet it struck me that there may be readers who could use my help or know someone who does. Knowledge is power- understanding the big picture, having an appropriate plan of attack and executing that plan makes a big difference. There is light at the end of the tunnel if you know to avoid being hit by the train.
As a professional investor, I’ve read quite a few annual reports. If you include quarterly reports, they number well over ten thousand. Early in my career this activity was limited to reports from companies, but now I research mutual funds of all types too. One section you see in every fund report is a discussion about past performance. While “past performance is no guarantee of future results” as the boilerplate legal language says, it can give you clues as to how a fund invests. Past performance should also raise certain questions in every portfolio manager’s mind. Namely, why do we own (or want to own) this fund? Read more »
On behalf of borrowers everywhere, I’m sharing a couple of gripes about banks who make mortgages. I have had several clients refinance – or attempt to refinance – in the past year. It seems that in just about every case, the bank has screwed up royally. The offenses seem to fall into several common mistakes: Read more »
I’ve been terribly remiss in posting lately. January is the busiest month for me, with year-end wrap ups, regulatory filings and tax efforts underway. I’ll also blame the cold for slowing my metabolism down. Then again, it’s not like you were hanging on our every word here. Anyway…
Given than a New Year tends to bring thoughts of planning for the future with New Year’s resolutions and whatnot, I’m sharing an interesting piece on MBA’s from The Economist below. If the chart is to believed, many MBA’s actually earn less after acquiring the coveted credential. The article’s explanation? The author suggests those years spent in the program detracts from real world experience and career advancement.
Woo-hoo! I’ve been listed as one of “America’s Top Financial Planners” by the Consumer’s Research Council of America. At least that what the mailing says. Oddly, the letter seems to only want me to purchase a commemorative “museum quality” plaque. There is no survey, no application and as far as I can tell, no nomination process. So how did I become one of America’s top financial planners anyway? I’m a small boutique shop that a research outfit would surely overlook. Read more »
You’re shocked to hear about yet another Ponzi scheme aren’t you? Yawn. Why is he blogging about yet another Ponzi scheme gone bad? I bring you this tale because it highlights just how creative some fraudsters can be.
Sandra Venetis of upscale Branchburg, NJ used her company, Systematic Financial Associates, to steal some $11 million from clients, many of whom were “retired or unsophisticated”, according to the SEC news release. How did she do it? The SEC complaint alleges that she sold promissory notes yielding 6-11%. Naturally, that yield was supposedly tax-free due to a loophole in the tax code. All the more enticing if you are retired on a fixed income, right? Read more »
So I’m in the bookstore last night and browsed the business section, as I often do. Picking up a book on options, my intent was to see if this was a good primer that I could recommend. Now, we won’t outright name this book, which claims to have sold quite a few copies, because I can appreciate how hard it is not to overlook something dumb you’ve written. Of course, I don’t have editors while bona-fide paid authors do. Nonetheless, our brilliant book had this to say only a few pages into chapter 1 (emphasis mine): Read more »
At a party this week, I was chatting with a friend. She relayed to me a story regarding her credit which serves as a good cautionary tale to all, the gist of which is this: your credit score can affect more than just your the rate on your cards.
You see, companies have figured out that FICO scores are good predictors of who will pay their bills on time. Insurance companies have started giving discounts to customers with higher scores on the notion that they will pay on time and are generally more responsible. Actuarial data tend to support this. Of course, we could easily look at it the other way: that insurance companies penalize those with lower scores by raising their premium. Read more »
A significant storm dropped 3 feet of snow on the southern Rocky Mountains last week. Friday was the first full day since the snow stopped and if ski patrol had time to clear avalanche danger, the ridge would be open. Forecast to be clear, sunny and warm, taking a ski day was certainly in the cards.
My day started with the best breakfast burrito one can find, from Abe’s Cantina in the tiny hamlet town of Arroyo Seco, NM, about 12 miles from Taos Ski Valley. Not long after I found myself warming up on a few groomed runs in perfect conditions. Arriving at the top of the highest lift, the view of the ridge opened up with it’s bright white cornice reflecting the morning sun. It was time. Read more »
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